I have a routine on Sunday. I start the coffee, send off the Nielsen Homescan Data (I am to household purchasing what the Nielsen ratings are to TV), and I sit at my computer.
To be honest, most of my life runs on routine, but Sunday mornings I look forward to because
- I am up before anyone else so the house is quiet
- That’s when I can read Dave Barry
I have loved Dave Barry almost since he began writing. He’s formulaic, but always funny within that formula and a great deal of my quoted material comes from his columns.
I cooled on my interest when he was between wives because I suspected from his book Dave in Cyberspace, that he found his new wife in an Internet chat area and I felt sorry for the previous wife. I also thought he wasn’t quite as funny then, but it could have been my filter.
Today, pulling up his column, I knew immediately I had to send the link to my father (remember him? — he’s outstanding in his field). An avid fisherman, like his father, I knew he would enjoy the humor.
Fly fishing is not a group or even a spectator sport; it is for the soul who relishes the thoughtfulness, skill and challenge.
In my mind’s eye, I can see my father standing in a meadow where the only indication of a stream is when you come directly upon it. It is early morning, the sun barely up and mist rising from the water. He’s wearing his hat, standing tall and straight, almost motionless, except for the occasional flick of the rod; the essence of Zen.
I wish I could post this picture, but it exists only in my mind. Dad, this story is for you.
There comes a time when a man must go into the wilderness and face on
of mankind’s oldest, and most feared, enemies: trout. For me, that
time came recently in Idaho, where I go every summer. Many people think
that Idaho is nothing but potato farms, but nothing could be further
from the truth: There are also beet farms. No, seriously, Idaho is a
beautiful state that offers –to quote Emmerson- “nature out the bazooty.”
This includes many rivers and streams that allegedly team with trout.
I say “allegedly” because until recently I never saw an actual trout,
teaming or otherwise. People were always pointing at the water and
saying, “Look! Trout!” But I saw nothing. I wondered if these people
were like that creepy little boy in the movie The Sixth Sense who had the
supernatural ability to see trout.
On a recent Idaho trip my friend Ron Ungerman- and “Ungerman” is NOT a
funny name, so lets not draw undue attention to it- persuaded me to go
trout fishing. We purchased fishing licenses and hired a guide named
Susanne, who is German but promised us that she would not be too strict.
Susanne had me and Ron Ungerman (ha ha!) put on rubber waders, which
server two important purposes: (1) they cause your legs to sweat; and
(2) they make you look like Nerd Boy from the Planet Dork. Then we
hiked through roughly eighty three miles of aromatic muck to a spot on the
Wood River that literally throbbed with trout. I , of coarse, did not
see them, but I did see a lot of blooping on the water surface, which
Susanne assured us was caused by trout.
To catch trout, you have to engage in “fly casting,” a kind of fishing
that is very challenging and here I am using “challenging” in the
sense of “idiotic.” When I was a boy, I fished with a worm on a hook, and
it always worked, and I will tell you why: Fish are not rocket
scientists. They see a worm, and in their tiny brains they think, “Huh! This
is something have never seen before underwater! I had better eat it!”
With “fly casting,” you wade into the river and attempt to place a
“fly”-a furry little hook thingy weighing slightly less than a hydrogen
atom- on top of the water right where the trout are blooping. You do this
by waving you fishing rod back and for the using the following rhythm,
as explained to us (I am not making this up) by our guide Susanne:
“CO-ca CO-la, CO-ca CO-la.” On you third Co-la, you point your arm
forward, and the “fly,” in a perfect imitation of nature, lands on you head.
Or sometimes it forms itself into a snarl that cannot be untangled
without the aid of a chain saw AND a flamethrower. At least that’s what
kept happening to me and my friend Ron Ungerman. (Yes! “Ungerman!”) We
stood there for hours, waving our rods and going “CO-ca CO-la,” but
most of the time we were not getting our flies anywhere near the blooping.
The trout were laughing so hard at us that they considered evolving
legs so that they could crawl onto land and catch their breath.
While fly fishing in Idaho, after hours of not catching or even seeing
any trout, it finally happened: I got a citation for not having my
fishing license with me. Really. I left the license back in the car.
The Idaho Fish and Game official who cited me was very polite, and so was
I, because he was wearing a sidearm. I considered asking him if I
could borrow it to shoot a trout, but there’s probably some rule against
As the day wore on during my fly-fishing excursion, Ron’s and my
efforts took on an air of desperation, because it was becoming clear that our
guide Susanne, a true professional, was NOT going to lets us leave
until we caught a blooping fish. So you can imagine how blooping happy we
were when Ron finally managed to haul in a trout. It was not a large
trout. It was the length of a standard Cheeto. But it WAS a trout,
damn it, and it meant we could stop. Later, Ron and I agreed that it had
been a lot of fun and we would definitely never do it again. So, to
any trout reading this I say: You are safe from us. And to the Idaho
Fish and Game Department, I say: You’ll never take me alive.